A lawsuit filed Tuesday seeks to void a new law about homeowners associations, not because of what it says but because of how it was enacted.
Attorney Tim Hogan of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest did not cite any legal problems with the changes it made. These include limiting the ability of cities and counties to force home builders to establish planned communities, complete with HOAs, as a condition of getting the necessary permits or zoning.
Hogan noted a measure with those provisions was approved by the House but faltered in the Senate. And similar provisions put onto yet another bill by Sen. Gail Griffin, R-Hereford, also ultimately went nowhere.
But the last night of the session Rep. Michelle Ugenti, R-Scottsdale, resurrected that language — and tacked on to a totally unrelated legislation making changes in state election laws.
And that, said Hogan, violates constitutional provisions requiring every measure to “embrace but one subject and matters properly connected therewith.”
He is asking a Maricopa County Superior Court judge to void the entire law. At the very least, Hogan said the late-added sections on HOAs should be stricken from the measure.
Hogan said courts have given legislators some latitude in determining whether items in a measure are related.
“The (constitutional) provision is construed pretty liberally,” he said.
“But not this liberally,” Hogan continued. “This is just two different subjects they stuck in one bill because it was the last night of the session, it was previously defeated, and the sponsor thought she could get it passed this way.”
Ugenti said she thinks her additions to the bill are legal, if for no other reason than one of the changes does deal with elections: It allows an HOA to have voting by electronic mail and facsimile.
But the changes are far more extensive, even beyond the limit on what cities and counties can impose on developers. It also sets out new limits on how homeowners associations can regulate rentals and what information they can demand about tenants.
No date has been set for a court hearing. But Hogan said he likely will ask for a ruling before Sept. 13, the day the legislation is set to take effect.